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5 Things You Should Know About The New Tuas Mega Port

As the maritime industry in Singapore successfully navigates through challenges such as slowing growth, rapid technological changes, and a tight labour market, it is imperative that ports find innovative ways to work more efficiently and capitalize on the opportunities available.

Singapore is clearly a role model for the maritime industry, retaining its position as the Leading Maritime Capital of the World according to the Leading Maritime Capitals Report 2017. Indeed, despite challenging economic conditions in both traditional shipping and the offshore oil and gas markets, the city-state boasts a remarkably successful maritime industry, achieving a top-5 position in shipping, finance and law, maritime technology, ports and logistics as well as overall attractiveness and competitiveness. This is largely due to an increased focus on R&D developments within the industry over the past few years.

Port development plays a crucial role in creating a world leading maritime hub and gaining a competitive edge regionally, which is why Singapore remains committed to investing in port infrastructure. The Tuas mega port is a major milestone in Singapore’s next generation container terminal development with the long-term project, that includes four phases, targeted for completion in the 2040s. With construction of Phase 1 beginning in April last year, the mega port is slated to open progressively from 2021.

Here’s what you should know about the upcoming Tuas Terminal; a centrepiece of Singapore’s Next Generation Port vision.

1. Consolidation of terminals

Singapore currently has five container terminals – Tanjong Pagar, Keppel, Brani, Pasir Panjang Terminal 1 and Pasir Panjang Terminal 2. Due to the frequent need to truck containers between terminals for transhipment, additional time and costs are incurred as a result of road congestions.

With the completion of the Tuas Terminal, all city terminals at Tanjong Pagar, Pasir Panjang, Keppel and Brani, will eventually be merged at Tuas. This consolidation of container port activities will not only result in increased efficiency in port operations due to the elimination of inter-terminals haulage, but also comes at the right time with the expiration of port leases at Tanjong Pagar, Keppel and Brani in 2027.

The Tuas Terminal is expected to be the largest container terminal in the world, with a facility that will be able to cater to mega-vessels. In addition, the mega-terminal will also have a total capacity of up to 65 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), more than the combined 50 million TEUs capacity of the current city terminals.

2. Caissons

Another key feature of the new port is the caissons. These large watertight chambers keep the water out by air pressure, allowing construction work to be carried out with ease. These concrete retaining structures are designed as the foundation of the Tuas Terminal Phase 1 and are one of the largest in the world. Each caisson weighs up to 15,000 tonnes and measures up to 28 metres tall (equivalent to the height of a 10 storey HDB block).

Using caissons to build the wharf structure is faster than traditional methods such as piling due to the shallow sea bed. A total of 222 caissons will form the permanent wharf structure of the work-in-progress mega-terminal, with 30 caissons already built as part of Phase 1 development.

3. State-of-the-art Technology

With technological advances transforming most industries, the maritime industry is shifting towards a digital future as well. Plans to incorporate more automation, intelligent control systems, and sustainable technologies into the new terminal shows how maritime players are harnessing new technologies to become more efficient and effective.

Some key innovations will include unmanned vehicles such as automated yard cranes, drones, data analytics and driverless trucks for port transport, which will be used at the upcoming mega terminal. Additionally, port waters will also be managed using next generation port operations systems. In particular, the Next Generation Vessel Traffic Management System helps with early detection of hot spots and advising the best route for vessels to reach the berths safely and efficiently without congesting the port.

Precision and speed that comes with automated technologies will not only help in increasing the productivity of a tight labour market, but also contributes to enhancing the safety and security of Singapore’s port waters.

4. Lifestyle Spaces

Departing from the concept of an ordinary container terminal, plans to develop Tuas Terminal into a maritime hub with storage facilities and commercial amenities are also in the pipeline.

To create greater efficiencies in overall port operations, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) is looking at developing facilities such as warehouse and distribution centres at the mega port; currently these are fragmented amongst different terminals in Singapore.

Combining both port activities and lifestyle spaces through the utilisation of both above-the-ground and underground spaces at the new terminal helps add life and vibrancy to the terminal. By getting the public interested to visit the port, it also offers an opportunity for them to get a better understanding of the evolving maritime sector as well.

5. Creation of Jobs

The maritime sector contributes around 7 percent to Singapore’s overall GDP growth, and currently employs over 170,000 workers. With this ongoing mega-project, more growth is expected in Singapore’s maritime sector. While the development of smarter ports creates a concern of technology taking away manual jobs, it also creates a demand for more port operators and marine engineers who are tech-savvy and ready for the future and offers opportunities for current maritime workers to upgrade their skills and develop their careers. With more jobs forecasted to be created in the maritime industry by 2025, this is probably the best time to join this vital, versatile, and resilient industry.

For those who are keen to take up new challenges, explore new horizons and be part of a vibrant, dynamic and growing sector, explore the Maritime Singapore Connect website and find out more.

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The Maritime Singapore Connect (MSC) Office is a national initiative, supported by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, to profile the maritime industry and connect students and jobseekers with the multiple pathways into the industry.

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